Sunday, September 14, 2014

Stone Mattress

Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood
Knopf Doubleday: 9/16/2014
eBook, 288 pages
ISBN-13: 9780385539128

A collection of highly imaginative short pieces that speak to our times with deadly accuracy. Vintage Atwood creativity, intelligence, and humor: think Alias Grace.
Margaret Atwood turns to short fiction for the first time since her 2006 collection, Moral Disorder, with nine tales of acute psychological insight and turbulent relationships bringing to mind her award-winning 1996 novel, Alias Grace. A recently widowed fantasy writer is guided through a stormy winter evening by the voice of her late husband in "Alphinland," the first of three loosely linked stories about the romantic geometries of a group of writers and artists. In "The Freeze-Dried Bridegroom," a man who bids on an auctioned storage space has a surprise. In "Lusus Naturae," a woman born with a genetic abnormality is mistaken for a vampire. In "Torching the Dusties," an elderly lady with Charles Bonnet syndrome comes to terms with the little people she keeps seeing, while a newly formed populist group gathers to burn down her retirement residence. And in "Stone Mattress," a long-ago crime is avenged in the Arctic via a 1.9  billion-year-old stromatolite. In these nine tales, Margaret Atwood is at the top of her darkly humorous and seriously playful game.
My Thoughts:

Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood is a very highly recommended collection of 9 tales from an extraordinarily adept writer who has stunning insights into the human psyche. 

It's always been a pleasure to read Atwood's novels so I have been looking forward to her latest collection of short stories, or tales, Stone Mattress. Unabashedly, I loved this collection.  The tales mainly feature aging characters, with one exception. The first three stories are linked through the characters. Several of the stories feature aging writers.

Alphinland - Constance is a writer whose recently deceased husband's voice guides her through her day. She also reflects about Gavin, an ex-lover from her youth.
Revenant -  Gavin, a pretentious, curmudgeonly elderly poet is disgruntled with life.
Dark Lady - We meet Jorrie, a former lover of Gavin.
Lusus Naturae - "When demons are required someone will always be found to supply the part, and whether you step forward or are pushed is all the same in the end."
The Freeze-Dried Groom - A man finds a corpse in a storage locker he has bought.
I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth - Three friends discuss life and their interconnected past misadventures.
The Dead Hand Loves You - An older writer who sold shares of his first book when young resents the three friends involved.
Stone Mattress - A woman meets her rapist from 50 years ago and plots her revenge.
Torching the Dusties - An elderly nursing home resident has lost her sight and must rely on a friend to guide her.

Don't let the theme of elderly protagonists prevent you from picking up this collection. Atwood is intelligent, politically and socially astute, and a superlative writer. In other words, Margaret Atwood rocks. This is a short story collection that should not be missed.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Knopf Doubleday for review purposes.

Margaret Atwood Interview

1 comment:

Jeanne said...

Glad to know you like this collection; that makes me more likely to seek it out.